Lower East Side Film Festival Q&A June 10 for THIS IS AMERICA SHORTS


CARRO (fiction), (YIRGA (fiction), NIGGA THEORY: A BRIEF EXPLORATION (documentary), WOLAKOTA (documentary), THE HIGH BRIDGE (fiction), ALL ON A MARDI GRAS DAY (documentary): Multi-ethic directors address American culture and its percolating issues.



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Josh Greenwood, Programming Director: That was great. Awesome films. We’ll do a quick little Q & A. If you were involved with any of the films and you’d like to come on up to the front, we’d like to ask you a couple of questions. So any of the filmmakers, come on up, and we’ll chat with you.

Josh Greenwood: Let’s do a little line right over here.

Josh Greenwood: Awesome, okay. Well again, I’m Josh Greenwood. I’m the programming director. I watch lots of films all year long, but these were the best, and they made it, or so I think. Yeah.

Josh Greenwood: Really quickly, we’ll just pass the mic back and forth as we go through this, but really quickly if you could, just say who you are and what film and what position you were on the film.

Tamara Price: My name is Tamara Price, I produced Yirga.

B.B. Araya: Hi, I’m Bethiel, professionally B.B. Araya, and I wrote and directed Yirga. Directed.

Benedict Campbell: I’m Benedict Campbell, I wrote and directed The High Bridge.

Joe Reaper: Joe Michael Reaper, producer for The High Bridge
*Khinmay: My name is Khinmay, and I directed and produced a simple … Nigga Theory. [*Khinmay Lwin Van Der Mee]

Josh Greenwood: All right, so we’ll stay over here and I’ll just ask you a couple quick questions and we’ll go down the line. So with Nigga Theory I was curious about your subject, the professor, and how you started your relationship with him and how that formed the short and how that came to be.

*Khinmay: I needed…I was still in school and I needed a fourth class, I needed someone to interview and I ran across him at a screening. And I was sitting in the middle row and we were screening a documentary and they introduced him in the back, you know, thank for coming from law school as you as a professor, a lawyer and everything, and he was getting a little heated about…it was a documentary about Anita Hill and he was getting a little heated about Clarence Thomas, talking about that. And I said, I wondered who he was, so I turned around to take a look and I saw this big Afro.

*Khinmay: And I thought, I got to interview that guy. And then when I looked him up in the director there was a photo with him looking like Obama. And I so, I mean, I just knew seeing him at that time I knew was very purposeful. His hair, his look, everything. But to see where, you know, because he…I thought he was a really weird looking guy. Now that he’s not with all the hair and everything, but it was such a conscious decision, so.

Khinmay: And then in interviewing him more and becoming more aware of, I never knew it to be called the personal responsibility…you know, politics of personal responsibility. And within the black community people are segregating amongst themselves and I thought I don’t know it. People should know about this. And I was happy I was able to do it and shed some light on what he was talking about.

Josh Greenwood: Good news, good news. So for High Bridge, I was curious, when you were in production, before production, were there any surprises that came about when you were making the film? Either from producing or directing? [inaudible 00:03:55]

Benedict Campbell: Yeah, the scene where they’re both sitting on the swings on the end, those are the little like bucket seats for the kids and he’s not going to fit in one of those. And we had to get the parks department to change the swings out for us [inaudible 00:04:07].

Josh Greenwood: Changing the swings.

Benedict Campbell: It was really nice.

Josh Greenwood: On the fly, it would seem.

Joe Reaper: We got permission, working for the bureaucracy of the New York City parks department. Convincing them to do the right thing, which is help us.

Benedict Campbell: One of the things that you just don’t really count on is that you can change the swings out. [inaudible 00:04:28]

Josh Greenwood: And then how did you find your cast?

Joe Reaper: The cast? We worked with a great casting director that I worked with before in school and actualLy the main actor, Aubrey, we’ve worked with him on another short film, so we knew him already and had that relationship.

Josh Greenwood: Awesome. And give it up for High Bridge.

Josh Greenwood: And for Yirga, I was curious, visually it’s very interesting to me and we talked a little bit beroe and it feels like she’s in between a lot of things, she’s moving, and I wondering if visually there was a lot of activity with that, in trying to show that through the film. Yeah, how did that come about?

Tamara Price: Yeah, so visually I just kind of wanted everything to feeL a little bit muted and a little bit stuck and very limited so using limited color palate and then having the camera be on sticks or panning but never handheld because I typically do like the verite style but there’s something really static about the very slow movements that hopefully help you get into the character’s head space.

Josh Greenwood: And it feels like she’s sort of stuck in every shot as you go along. And I know even with her hair, it’s like halfway there so you sort of show her journey everywhere, right? And you spoke before, but this is part of something larger, right?

Tamara Price: Yes.

B.B. Araya: We’re in the process of developing a feature that will expand on Yirga’s character and also kind of get into her parents, her brother’s origins and kind of show you more of that in-between stage of her life and also, you know, how she got to that point. How her mother got to that point. And bringing in her culture more. You see a bit of it with her interaction with the store clerk, but you’ll kind of get to…we’ll blow that up bigger and you’ll see all of it within the community.

Josh Greenwood: Very excited to see the next step, hopefully we’ll see it here, soon. Yeah. Give it up for Yirga, everybody!

Josh Greenwood: So, if you could, that was This America…This is America. If you have any questions that you’d like to ask the filmmakers, please do. Let’s do it outside the theater, though. We have to get our next screening started, which is starting right now. And they’re actually waiting in the front. So if you could do us a favor and head on out the back. If you are here for another screening, you want to hang out, just move back around and hang out in our lobby that way, and we’ll see you later. Thank you again.